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All About Martin Luther King Jr.

Jan 09, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential political activists in 20th century American history, and played a key role in the African American Civil Rights movement. In honor of his contribution to U.S. history the third Monday of every January is a federal holiday - Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Find out more in All About Martin Luther King Jr.

Young Martin

Born (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) and raised in Atlanta, Georgia Martin Luther King Jr. came from a long line of pastors, but in his youth he had doubts about his religion. He attended a segregated high school (meaning the white and African American students were separated, and African Americans not given the same privileges) but was so smart that he skipped some grades and went straight to Morehouse College at the age of 15. In college he met his future wife Coretta Scott, with whom he had 4 children. Despite his feelings on religion, after earning his degree Martin became pastor like his grandfather and father.

Pastor to Politics

At just 25-years-old King became pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama and continued his studies, earning a doctorate in theology at Boston University at the same time. In his studies Martin met a professor who profoundly affected how he saw the world when he pointed him in the direction of the renowned Indian politician Gandhi, who believed in preaching and affecting change through non-violence. Martin found this inspiring, and was soon to be able to put it to the test. He became a member of the committee for the National Associaton for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and in 1955 when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus because of segregation laws, he staged the first nonviolent united boycott by African Americans in history which lasted for 385 days, despite King having his home bombed and being arrested himself. The boycott ended with United States District Court ruling that all segregation on Montgomery buses should come to an end.

Civil Rights Hero

Martin Luther King Jr. had played a major part in starting a movement towards a completely free and equal society, and he continued to propel the African American Civil Rights movement forward. He was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and over the next 11 years traveled across the country giving speeches and helping to create change in places which outdated laws and severe injustice, most notably in Birmingham, Alabama. He also wrote several books and articles outlining how civil rights needed to change across the country. At just 35 years old, he was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

On April 4th 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while in Memphis to support a strike organized for African American garbage workers.

Check out Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech below!                                                                                 

 

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